YERBA MATE & GUAYUSA & YAUPON: Caffeine Alternatives from the Holly Family
YERBA MATE (mah-tay)
We are proud to offer our customers an Organic, Fair Trade Mate of the most superb leaf quality. Yerba, the sacred Paraguayan tea plant, is the traditional and common daily drink of the Gurarani Natives. It is famous for its stimulating effects, but is growing in popularity for its numerous health benefits and mood lifting capability. We serve it in a traditional gourd called a calabash, with a drinking straw or “bombilla”. The infusion, made from the crushed, light green leaf of the mate plant, has as earthy, vegetal aroma, and a strongly herbal, bitter taste that can be softened by the addition of local honey. It is a good choice to accompany late nights of studying, or when the day’s mood needs an upward lift. We do not recommend mate for children, or anyone highly sensitive to caffeine.
This traditional way of serving mate features a large amount of mate in a gourd. The gourd is skillfully filled with low temperature water, allowing the water to flow down the side of the bombilla and creating a tunnel so that the top of the leaves remain dry. Extra water is served so that, as each infusion progresses, the leaves are pulled slowly down into the water allowing for an almost limitless number of infusions. Traditionally, this type of mate ritual is shared in a circle with friends, one sipping the tea, and then filling the gourd with water before passing affectionately to the next friend.
This gourd consists of a large amount of mate mixed with a mantle of local honey (miel). A good drink if you don’t want to sleep for three days, or if you’ve put off a project that is due tomorrow.
An interesting mate blend combining the Chinese smoked tea Lapsang Souchong and local maple syrup. Especially suited for those who prefer smoked (ahumado) mate.
Guayusa is in the same genus of mate, but it is a different species. It is native to South America, like mate, but specifically grows in a thin stretch of the upper Amazon (mostly Ecuador) that hugs the Andes Mountains. Like mate, it also contains caffeine and a boatload of antioxidants. It is unique, however, in that it contains theanine, a mind calming amino acid that is present in Camellia sinensis (the tea plant), but not in mate or yaupon. The flavor profile is woody and sweet with a lingering mint aftertaste. Give it a try and discover why native South American tribes claim that it promotes alertness and lucid dreaming!
Yaupon is in the holly family (like mate and guayusa), but it’s native to the southeastern United States–the only native source of caffeine in North America! It is sweet and woody, and also a bit lighter in flavor than both mate and guayusa. Just like mate and guayusa, it also contains not only caffeine but a ton of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. One sip of this pleasant elixir, and you will know why Native American southern tribes called it “Asi” which means “the purifier”.